Chi­nese sauce ty­coon spice up the world

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHENG XIN zhengxin@chi­

Dif­fer­ent from peer com­pa­nies that fo­cus on the do­mes­tic mar­ket be­fore ex­pan­sion over­seas, fam­ily-con­trolled sauce gi­ant Lee Kum Kee tapped the US as its first and ma­jor over­seas mar­ket since its estab­lish­ment.

For 30 years, some 80 to 90 per­cent of the rev­enue of the lead­ing Chi­nese sauce com­pany — head­quar­tered in Hong Kong — is gen­er­ated over­seas, mostly in the United States, said Sammy W.S. Lee, chair­man of the com­pany, who is also a mem­ber of the Na­tional Com­mit­tee of Chi­nese Peo­ple’s Po­lit­i­cal Con­sul­ta­tive Con­fer­ence.

“We got two pro­duc­tion plants in the US, one in New York City and the other in Los An­ge­les,” Lee said. “One of the pur­poses of the over­seas busi­ness is to pro­mote tra­di­tional Chi­nese herbal health prod­ucts to the peo­ple around the world while boost­ing Chi­nese cuisines world­wide.”

The com­pany made he added.

Lee said the US will still be the ma­jor mar­ket for the com­pany in the up­com­ing years.

Lee Kum Kee was es­tab­lished in 1888 when its founder Lee Kum She­ung in­vented oys­ter sauce in Nan­shui, Zhuhai, Guang­dong prov­ince.

As early as 1920, Lee Kum Kee was al­ready ex­pand­ing over­seas. The oys­ter sauce was the first to gain world­wide pop­u­lar­ity.

“We made the best oys­ter sauce and shrimp paste back then, and due to our world class qual­ity and rel­a­tive higher cost, the sauces were well-re­ceived in over­seas mar­kets,” said Lee.

Decades later,

it hap­pen,


oys­ter sauce, to­gether with its shrimp paste and other tra­di­tional Chi­nese herbal health prod­ucts, have been avail­able in 60 coun­tries across the five con­ti­nents.

Tar­get­ing dif­fer­ent pref­er­ences and fla­vors all over the world, Lee Kum Kee has in­tro­duced var­i­ous sauces world­wide to con­tinue its le­gacy of Chi­nese culi­nary cul­ture, in­clud­ing the Sriracha Mayo ex­clu­sively at re­tail­ers through­out Hawaii, to join its line of more than 200 au­then­tic Asian sauces and condi­ments.

Where there are peo­ple eat­ing Chi­nese food, there are Lee Kum Kee prod­ucts to be bought. “We hope that our food prod­ucts can act as culi­nary am­bas­sadors, bring­ing the fine art of Chi­nese cui­sine into ev­ery­one’s home,” Lee said.

Af­ter a rep­u­ta­tion built world­wide, Lee Kum Kee more than ever fo­cused on the do­mes­tic mar­ket, a mar­ket with a pop­u­la­tion of 1.3 bil­lion peo­ple.

The food com­pany set up by Sammy Lee’s great-grand­fa­ther to man­u­fac­ture oys­ter­fla­vored sauce in 1888 is a fam­ily busi­ness in China, one of the few fam­ily busi­nesses that have sur­vived the test of time in the coun­try.

“It’s ob­vi­ous the China is at­tach­ing more sig­nif­i­cance to fam­ily firms, and the con­tri­bu­tions made by fam­ily busi­nesses,” said Lee.

Af­ter some 30 years of devel­op­ment, fam­ily busi­nesses in China have ac­counted for a mas­sive per­cent­age of pri­vate eco­nomic pro­duc­tion, with great con­tri­bu­tion to GDP and job cre­ation, ac­cord­ing to the All-China Fed­er­a­tion of In­dus­try and Com­merce.

Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Cen­ter for Pri­vate Econ­omy Stud­ies, many fam­ily busi­nesses on the Chi­nese main­land, mostly small and medium-sized cor­po­ra­tions lo­cated in the eastern coastal prov­inces, de­spite their im­pres­sive con­tri­bu­tion to eco­nomic devel­op­ment, are still in the early stage of growth.

How­ever, a small batch of fam­ily-owned firms are un­aware of their du­ties and have tar­nished the im­age of fam­ily firms, Lee said.

To help those fam­ily busi­nesses fur­ther gain mo­men­tum and even ex­pand their busi­ness over­seas, Lee has sub­mit­ted pro­pos­als on the so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity of fam­ily firms for seven years to the CPPCC this year.

Lee said a lot of fam­ily busi­nesses in China have a lack of un­der­stand­ing over the so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity, while fo­cus­ing only on the self and short-term in­ter­est, which leads to an un­de­sir­able rep­u­ta­tion in so­ci­ety.

The gov­ern­ment should come up with a plat­form to pro­mote and share ex­pe­ri­ences of fam­ily busi­nesses tak­ing on so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity, which can also help the gov­ern­ment fur­ther un­der­stand the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, he said.



Sammy W.S. Lee,

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